No clear understanding of the dangers
I played football all my life and decided that I wanted to continue to play in college. I had apparently injured myself the summer before starting college football workouts and found out when fall practice started that it was a major issue. I was an offensive lineman, and I would have constant contact with other players, this contact is what alerted me to the major issue in my back. I found out that I would never play again because of extensive trauma to my lower back. I did not have a clear understanding of the dangers of prescription opiates, I didn’t have any understanding. I took the medication as directed for four years, until I left school.
Meeting my body’s demand for opiates
After four years of college, I left school with an opioid dependence that led directly into addiction and opioid use disorder. I started seeking medication in a problematic way, using illegal means to meet my body’s demand for opiates. Many years passed between recognizing I had a problem and getting help. I did not believe that life had become unmanageable, but I was proven otherwise by being convicted of crimes relating to my opioid use.
In 2017 I sought treatment after an overdose of fentanyl and the impending departure of my family from my life. They had been through 15 years of my addiction, and they had gotten to the point that they were losing all hope. I spent the next 12 months at an inpatient facility, Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge. I graduated the program and I had applied for a position as an intern working on the grounds and with other patients in the program. I interned at PAATC for 18 months and was offered an opportunity as a paid staff member. I left PAATC to work for the RASE Project in Lebanon Pennsylvania and I worked there as a medication assisted treatment coordinator, helping people with opiate use disorder access treatment and recovery options. This led to my current position at WellSpan Health Group as a Certified Recovery Specialist. I continue to work with people with opiate use disorder today, I cannot see myself doing anything else.
Coming alongside others
I never thought that my journey of addiction would lead me to working within the substance use community, coming alongside others with opiate use disorder to help give hope and support. Today, I have everything I never thought I would have! I have a loving fiancée, an awesome puppy, and a great career in front of me. The bridges between myself and my family and friends that were once burning have been mended and are stronger than ever. My recovery is bolstered by working within the community and coming alongside those in need. I have a great opportunity to help build others up because I know what it is like to have everything torn down.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.” Ernest Hemmingway